- Published on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 02:36
- Written by Staff Reporter
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A $ 30 million project secured by the Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company (KADCO) to rehabilitate and maintain Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) has finally begun to bear fruits.
KADCO, a company that manages operations of the KIA has already secured a $30 million from a Netherlands-based firm, Orion Grand Facility in a bid to transform KIA into a fully-fledged tourist’s gateway. KIA has now been able to attract more international and world-class airlines with the latest being Qatar Airways that launched its maiden flight from Doha to KIA last Wednesday.
Other Airlines that fly to KIA include KLM, Condor Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Edelweiss Air, Rwanda Air and Kenya Airways. It is no doubt that such reputable airlines would offer the best alternative choice for would-be tourists both local and international to board direct flights to the northern regions endowed with the unique tourism attractions in the world.
Qatar Airways that launched its Doha-Kilimanjaro route, a fortnight ago triumphed at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards, winning three top accolades, including the main award World’s Best Airline for the second year running, Best Airline in the Middle East for the seventh consecutive year, and the Best Airline Staff Service award in the Middle East.
The Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Hamis Kagasheki, during the launch of the Doha-Kilimanjaro route which is the airline’s 18th gateway to the continent and second in Tanzania, hinted that two more other international Airlines that include Turkish Airlines and Emirates Air are also interested in launching direct flights to KIA.
Kagasheki said KIA will now be able to get connections from the rest of the world including the Middle East which will help increase tourist inflow into the country as well as increasing the country’s revenue earnings. “We have unique tourist sites that can attract more tourists into the country. We need to embark on an aggressive marketing campaign that will help lure more tourists into the country.
“The good news is that we have respectable airline companies flying directly into the country that will help connect us to the rest of the world,” he said. Kagasheki noted that there was need for the private sector to work hand in hand with the Government in a bid to effectively utilize all the opportunities that will come by after the completion of KIA that will serve as a gate way to the rest of the world after completion.
The Transport Minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, speaking on same event said Government is determined to developing an efficient transport network that will facilitate easy movement of people and goods. Mwakyembe noted that efficient transport networks will be a boost to the country’s tourism and economy at large. The KADCO Board Chairman, Ambassador Hassan Gumbo Kibelloh, however, said the company will provide a five-star handling services to all the companies interested in using the airport.
He said his company is determined to focusing on environmental conservation through planting trees around airport surrounding areas that will help to minimize pollution risks. “Airlines interested in flying to KIA should be rest assured that they will get five-star handling services to match their status. Our vision is not only to make KIA a competitive airport but also adhere to environmental conservation,” he said.
The number of international arrivals at KIA has consistently grown by nearly 15 per cent annually since 2003 with records indicating that the airport currently serves 650,000 passengers per year. The Tanzania Tourist Board Managing Director, Dr Aloyce Nzuki, speaking on the sidelines of Qatar Airways’ new Doha-Kilimanjaro route, however, said the number of tourists from the Middle and Far East to the northern region are likely to increase simultaneously.
"Kilimanjaro is one of the fastest growing destinations in today's aviation industry because of its big tourism potential.TTB will embark on an aggressive marketing campaign both domestic and foreign to ensure that the country’s tourists attractions are publicized,” he said. Kilimanjaro is gateway to the country’s unique tourists sites that include Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Parks which is one popular destinations visited by millions of tourists from different parts of the world.
The launch of direct and efficient air transport means in the region means that the number of tourists flocking the area will almost double since tourists would be able to travel at their own convenience. The tourism sector is one of the fastest growing sector in Tanzania with the total contribution to GDP of 12.9 per cent and is predicted to grow 13.4% by 2021.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Monthly Economic Review for May, Tanzania recorded an increase in number of international arrivals from 782,699 in 2010 to 867,994 in 2011 leading to an increase in service receipts in April 2012, from USD 2,392.6 million compared to USD 2,156.9 million recorded in the corresponding period last year.
Statistics from the Tanzania Tourist Board show that around $3 million is spent annually to promote Tanzania's tourism attractions in the country, which is far below South Africa's $70 million promotion budget. Promotion of the country’s tourist attractions alone, however, cannot help uplift the sector but should go inline by setting up the necessary infrastructure in terms of recreation facilities that include hotels, camping sites among others which can be achieved through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) .